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Lord Chesham: My Lords, I will be absolutely delighted to pass on the noble Lord's congratulations. That is something I do not see very often from anywhere but I shall pass on the congratulations with great pleasure. Indeed the Minister of State, Mr. Hanley, called at Orient House during his visit to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, which is a reaffirmation of the long-standing common EU policy on Jerusalem and Orient House; that is, that Foreign Ministers from EU states officially visiting Israel should also call at Orient House. The Israelis tried to persuade him not to go but the atmosphere with the Israelis was perfectly amicable and he made that visit.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, the wording of the Question is such that it gives the impression that the move of these offices was fairly recent. Is the Minister aware that these offices were moved to East Jerusalem over 10 years ago?

Lord Chesham: Yes, my Lords, I am aware of that. Perhaps I might expand slightly on that. The Ministry of Agriculture remains in Tel Aviv. The army HQ is in the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv although the HQ of the central command is in East Jerusalem and has been for some years. The Ministry of Housing moved to East Jerusalem in 1981; the police HQ has been in East Jerusalem for more than 20 years and has recently had a new HQ built in the same area; and the civil courts have moved to East Jerusalem in the past three years.

Lord Beloff: My Lords, can my noble friend the Minister explain why, if the purpose is to maintain the situation in Jerusalem until the final phase of the peace negotiations, it is not equally improper for Orient House

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to function in East Jerusalem, which suggests that the decision will be on the Palestinian side? Why are these matters not treated equally?

Lord Chesham: My Lords, I believe that they are treated equally in that visits are made to West Jerusalem on the Israeli side and Orient House is in East Jerusalem. Our position on Jerusalem has not changed. It is a matter to be determined in the final status talks between the parties and neither side should do anything to pre-empt the final status negotiations.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, is the Minister prepared to raise with his right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the question of continuing housing settlements to the east of Jerusalem? Will he ask his right honourable friend whether he will raise this matter with the United States Government? Since successive American Governments have described the policy as an obstacle to peace and as a complicating factor, would it not be appropriate to ask the American Government to use their considerable influence with the Israeli Government to stop that unfortunate and short-sighted policy?

Lord Chesham: My Lords, I shall certainly pass on that message. Our position is that all settlements in occupied territory are illegal and are an obstacle to peace. We have raised the issue repeatedly with the Israeli Government.

Viscount Allenby of Megiddo: My Lords, can the Minister say whether he anticipates that the elections on 20th January will take place in East Jerusalem, and indeed all over Jerusalem? If that is not the case, will the Government bring pressure on the Israeli Government to ensure that they do?

Lord Chesham: My Lords, we have no reason to believe that the Palestinian elections, due on 20th January, which were agreed between the Palestinian authority and the Israeli Government, will not go ahead.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that many of us hope that what will emerge in the long run is Jerusalem as a capital for two separate states and entities? Will Her Majesty's Government bear in mind as a background to the negotiations the vital interests of three great monotheistic religions in not only Jerusalem but also such places as Bethlehem and Hebron?

Lord Chesham: Yes, my Lords.

Fish Fingers: Content

3.22 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that any action is necessary upon the finding, in recent research sponsored by the European Commission, that fish fingers sold in the United Kingdom have less fish content than those in most west European countries.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, we believe that labelling of fish fingers could usefully be more informative. We

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support the European Community proposal to require quantitative ingredient labelling which is very close to final adoption. When implemented this will require products such as fish fingers and fish cakes to declare the amount of fish that they contain.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his reply and in particular for the information that in future the fish content of fish fingers will have to be stated on labels, as with meat products at present. However, is this not a matter to be left to the tastes and preferences of the consumers? In the present circumstances of serious over-fishing of Europe's seas and severe pressure on fish stocks, may the frugal apportioning of fish to fish fingers also prove to be a sensible conservation measure?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I have to agree with my noble friend. Indeed, fish-free fish fingers would be very popular with my family.

Lord Carter: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the absurdity of the common fisheries policy and the lack of consumer protection in this country are well illustrated by this situation? While the common fisheries policy results in tens of thousands of tonnes of fish being thrown back into the sea, the Government have allowed a situation to develop where the British fish finger is singularly lacking in fish.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I do not see the sense in the noble Lord's question.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, having protected the British sausage a few years ago--a subject which I raised in this House at the time--will the Government now prepare to defend the British fish finger? Was the expenditure by the Commission on the research necessary?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I cannot comment on whether the research was necessary. I do not know how much it cost and I do not know of any particular use for it. With regard to the British fish finger, we know of no Commission proposal to affect it or abolish it, and were there any such proposal we would certainly raise two fish fingers to it.

Dr. Muhammad al-Mas'ari

3.25 p.m.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the circumstances in which they decided to deport Dr. Muhammad al-Mas'ari.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My Lords, the decision to remove Dr. al-Mas'ari was taken when it became apparent that there was a safe country where he was admissible.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, does the Minister agree that Dr. al-Mas'ari is a person with a well-founded fear of persecution in his country of origin and therefore is a refugee within the meaning of the convention irrespective of whether or not there has been a

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determination to that effect? In those circumstances how can the Government pretend to get round their obligation under Article 32.1 of the convention not to deport Dr. al-Mas'ari except on grounds of national security and public order? Has it not been made perfectly plain by Miss Ann Widdecombe in repeated appearances on television that the reasons for his deportation are our commercial interests?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the important point is that a safe place is found for Dr. al-Mas'ari. However, it has to be accepted that Dr. al-Mas'ari is an illegal immigrant. He has used the hospitality of this country to wage a campaign to bring down the Saudi Government. The decision to remove him to a safe third country was taken strictly within our obligations under national and international law.

Lord Clark of Kempston: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is inexcusable that a dissident from a foreign country should be able to come to this country and stir up trouble between this country and a friendly government overseas? Does my noble friend agree that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary was absolutely right to deport this man? Finally, can my noble friend confirm that if Dr. al-Mas'ari appeals against his deportation order he will not, as a dissident and illegal immigrant, be entitled to legal aid?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I agree with much of what my noble friend says. Our Government exist to advance and protect the interests of the United Kingdom. Those include people's jobs and peace and stability within the Gulf states. They also include not damaging our national or international interests. The activities of Dr. al-Mas'ari since his arrival in this country in his attempts to overthrow the Saudi Government put all those interests at risk. It is therefore entirely proper for my right honourable friend the Home Secretary to take such matters into account while at the same time honouring his obligations under the law.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, since when has an asylum seeker who properly claims a place of safety in this country under the Geneva convention been labelled an illegal immigrant?

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